Gina Storm Grant: Re-inventing Love Book Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway!

Re-inventing love blog tour

Reinventing Love Final Front Cover 3 28 2016 Full size 72 dpi

Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ All Romance ~ MLR

Engineer and assistant inventor Maximilian Grün is in love with his employer, but he daren’t reveal the truth. It’s 1910 and if Canadian authorities learned of his homosexuality, they’d deport him back to Germany where the country of his birth would become the country of his death.

When promising young inventor and mathematician Dr. Jasper Hamilton expresses his own feelings for Max, the young German regretfully declines. He cannot risk their partnership, their reputations—their very lives!

Then a rival inventor sabotages their inventions. Jasper is caught between the physical and the metaphysical, reduced to atoms, and transported to the spirit plane! Max is devastated, deeply regretting his lost chances.

But Jasper manages to communicate across the aether, telling Max he must reverse the machine’s polarity. But without Jasper’s talent for mathematics, the calculations defeat him.

Can the would-be lovers bridge the gap between life and death to finally be together?

Links to Buy:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XMDmaP
MLR: http://bit.ly/1Whtx5J
All Romance: http://bit.ly/1SB6X8R

 

 

Excerpt

Max trembled as Jasper’s calloused hands travelled firmly over his body, coming to rest on Max’s hips. Jasper tugged Max toward him the last inch or two. Max followed willingly. They pressed up against one another, the pressure so welcome, so satisfying, and yet, not satisfying at all.

Jasper moved to Max’s ear, kissing and caressing, even nipping softly. Max shuddered, a wave of bliss coursing through him, foreshadowing pleasures to come.

Jasper wedged his fingers between them at Max’s neck, unfastening the top button of Max’s shirt. He exposed the tiniest bit of throat, kissing and licking as he reached for another button. Max pulled away, panting and dizzy.

“Let’s move to the divan,” Jasper whispered before taking Max’s earlobe between his teeth.

“Yes,” Max agreed. Then, “No. No!” He yanked himself from Jasper’s embrace. “I can’t. We can’t.” His voice broke, and he stood, half bent, clutching his gut like a man in pain. He’d felt so complete in the circle of Jasper’s arms, safe, cherished. But at the same time, as if he were caught in a trap. How could he bear such conflicting emotions?

Gina GrantAuthor Bio

Storm Grant writes engaging male/male fiction, more light than dark. Since 2007, Storm has published with MLR, Riptide, Amber Quill, Phaze, Torquere, and more.

Her alter ego, Gina X. Grant, is represented by Rosemary Stimola, the agent who also represents the Hunger Games series. Check out Gina’s RELUCTANT REAPER trilogy, published by Simon and Schuster.

“I’m a joiner,” says Storm. “Find me wherever fun people hang out.” That includes membership in the RWA, Sisters in Crime, SFWA, and Novelists Inc. She attends as many conferences as she can, including RainbowCon, GayRomLit, and NinC, plus many local sci-fi cons and writerly meet-ups. She’s a big fan of Kobo Writing Life’s gatherings and has shared designer pizza with the likes of Kevin J. Anderson, Joanna Penn, and Hugh Howey.

Storm lives in Toronto, Canada, just blocks from the house she grew up in. She’s married to a friendly curmudgeon from a mining town in Northern Ontario, where he played hockey against Shania Twain’s brother. Storm and Mr. Grumpy have rescued many dogs and cats over the years, but are busy spoiling just one now.

Storm loves to travel, spending time each winter in San Miguel de Allende, an artists community in the mountains of Mexico. This past fall, she and a buddy toured China where, yes, she did climb the Great Wall.

Storm and Gina’s books are available at your favorite online booksellers. She can be found on all the cool social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

These days Gina has joined the ranks of the authorpreneurs. “I’m a tri-brid author,” she says. “I’m traditionally published with a Big Five, e-published with several successful digital-first publishers, and now I’m indie-publishing my own books through my own company, Wit & Grit Co.”

The company name is derived from the signature line Storm and Gina have shared for many years, because she really does write: “Quirky fiction that’s pretty, witty and gritty.”

EMAIL: storm.grant@gmail.com / ginaXgrant@gmail.com

WEBSITE: http://stormgrant.com / http://ginaxgrant.com

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was invited by Angie of Love Romances and More to participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop—a sort of pyramidal branching hop where one person sends questions to five people, who post their questions to five people, who select another five people and post the following week, and so on and so on, like that old seventies shampoo commercial. I liked the idea of it—for one thing, I like blog hops. For another, it’s fun to see how different people answer the same questions. The best part I think, though, lies in the fact that your commitment is to only five people a week. I’ve found for me personally, if there are over 200 people participating in a weekend hop, I’m lucky if I get to more than the top 20-30 on the list. So yes, I thought this would be great fun!

The plan was to answer preset questions about your latest release or your WIP. In this case, my answers are for one and the same! If that sounds strange, it’s because I’m currently working on an expanded version of my sport horse story, Lightning in a Bottle, which is part of the Going for Gold Anthology from MLR Press. So, without further ado, the questions!

The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

Hold the Reins, which is an allusion to the fact that not only can there only be one person in charge of where the horse goes, but also to the behind-the-scenes manipulations of Jake’s father. Jake and Rich have found their way back together at the end of Lightning in a Bottle, but being together is never simply a case of Happily Ever After, The End. Relationships are hard work, and relationships that have trust issues are even harder. The two men will have to feel their way into their repaired relationship, all the while dealing with the pressures of Olympic competition and living in the spotlight.

Jake will have to decide if he will pursue his tentative relationship with Rich or hang on to all he knows, particularly when that includes the health and well-being of the man that has always been a father figure to him, Jim Banks. There are no easy answers because of his tumultuous relationship with his father, Patrick Stanford, and the lengths Patrick has gone to in order to keep Jake and Rich apart.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oh, that’s an easy one! I recently had to retire my own sport horse from eventing, a very bittersweet decision on my part. When I read the submission prompt for a short story involving Olympic athletes for the M/M anthology, I confess, my first thought was that I bet there would be a lot of submissions about diving and swimming (and why not? SPEEDOS!) but that I’d probably be the only one to sub a story about eventing—one of those sports that only gets 3 minutes of airtime on the main broadcasting channel and you have to have cable and a TiVo (or a very patient boyfriend with these things!) to see any of the rest of it.

Well… 10 K became 25 K, and the next thing I know, I’m staring at a story that is too big to tell in the allotted space. I didn’t know what to do! Fortunately the terrific people at MLR Press let me make all kinds of last minute revisions so that an expanded version would make sense, and I’ve been working on it ever since. Slower than I would like, but moving forward just the same. I’ve had both heavy work commitments and some pressing family health issues, so writing has taken a bit of a back seat at the moment. I’m about 2/3 of the way done, though, and I hope to have it completed in short order.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely contemporary M/M romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This was an incredibly tough question to answer. I don’t have a lot of time to watch television or go to the movies anymore, so I tend to be behind the times on the latest, hottest actors. Also, my characters are a bit older than your average Olympian, as eventing is a sport where people can compete for decades—one of the reasons I love it is because your partner is a horse, and this makes it one of the few sports where men and women compete directly against each other as well.

I ended up having to ask friends who’d read the story for help, and this is what we came up with:

For Rich Evans, I would cast Joshua Jackson (Fringe). It isn’t just about the blue eyes and the boyish good looks—there’s something about his presence and the kinetic energy in his hands that makes him a good fit for Rich.

Jake was much harder. I had a strong mental image of what Jake looked like (being kind of partial to that ‘type’) but I was looking for something a little less scruffy than my usual go-to look. I needed someone who had the smoothness of being raised in wealth and the benefit and polish of a prep-school education, while still retaining that bad-boy toughness about him.

One of my friends suggested Sebastian Stan (Bucky from Captain America) and though I couldn’t see it at first, the more I looked at images of this actor online, the more I did. He has that ageless quality about him that only gets better with time, and that is definitely Jake!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Horse-crazy boys fall in love, are separated by circumstances, and learn to overcome obstacles to find love and trust again.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m hoping MLR Press will pick up the option, but a lot of that will depend on my ability to meet their deadline. If I can’t, then the book will just have to sit on the shelf for a while until the rights for the novella return to me. That’s okay if that happens–I’ve got plenty of other projects to work on! I hope that I can get this finished on time however, and that the end product is something that pleases everyone.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Um, still working…

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s the fun part, I can’t think of any off the top of my head—most of the horse-related stories in the M/M genre that I’ve read have been about cowboys, not event riders! From the standpoint of a contemporary m/m romance set in a realistic sports background, maybe Alan Chin’s Matchmaker? I know that’s presumptuous of me to place my name in the same sentence with Chin, but I’m thinking in terms of the storyline here. 🙂

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Well, I was galloping along madly with the novella for submission to the anthology, when one of my beta readers said, “You realize you have the makings of a really good novel here, right?”

I realized she was right, only I was already committed to the anthology. Fortunately the people at MLR Press have been *very* accommodating!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Let’s see… have you ever seen eventing? It’s the triathlon of horse sports, with a dressage phase (Tall boots! Breeches! Gloves! Riding crops!) that combines elegance, precision, and strength to move your horse through a series of elements. From there, you go on to the cross-country phase where you gallop across miles of challenging terrain, leaping unusual and tricky combinations of fences at speed. A lot of horse and rider teams get eliminated there. The final element is show jumping, where the fences are bigger, the turns are tighter, and the stakes are higher as the remaining competitors go for the gold. What is there not to love about that?

Going for Gold is available now from MLR Press: 8 novellas by your favorite M/M authors featuring Olympians vying for that greatest award of all–love.

My other blog hop contributors will be posting their answers to these same questions next week:

Xanthe Walter

Clare London

Cooper West

Sue Holston

Whitley Gray

Aundrea Singer

You can also follow the rest of The Next Big Thing bloggers on Twitter with the hashtag #NextBigThing

 

 

So, the silence means I’m busy, right?

I know, despite good intentions to the otherwise, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m not going to linger here tonight, either.

The short version: we weathered hurricane Sandy just fine here, being on the outskirts of the storm and missing any major damage. My heart goes out to the people who weren’t so lucky. I can’t imagine the devastation and destruction this hurricane wreaked on people’s lives–I can only hope that those affected can find the means and the will to stand up from the ruins and rebuild their lives.

I can’t begin to convey the relief I felt when President Obama not only won his re-election bid, but did so handily. I can only think that the people who blamed hurricane Sandy on Romney ‘losing his momentum’ and called the hurricane a judgment on the area of the country hit for supporting marriage equality could not possibly have known anyone personally affected by such a terrible storm, nor fully engaged their brains before running their mouths. Regardless, I am relieved to be able to lay my outrage (over some of the policies the GOP seemed to be promoting) down for a while, and move on to other topics of importance to me.

In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to be hosting various authors as they discuss their upcoming releases and allow me to interrogate them! We’ll be hearing from Claire Russett, Nessa L. Warrin, and Lex Valentine, among others. I’m also going to be doing some guest spots myself, as well as participating in some blog hops. More on all of these events as they approach!

I’m still working feverishly on expanding my Sport Horse story, Lightning in a Bottle (part of the Olympic themed M/M anthology Going for Gold, now out with MLR Press) into a full length novel. Hold the Reins takes the story beyond Jake’s qualification for the Olympics all the way to Greenwich Park, where he must overcome personal challenges to both his renewed relationship with Rich, as well as a threat to his ability to compete at all. I’m excited about this story, and frustrated that my day job is keeping me from wallowing in hours of Olympic footage while I clicketedy-clack to my heart’s content on my laptop. The story is starting to move along now, however, and I hope to have it finished before the end of the year. I’m glad that work is rolling in, don’t get me wrong! But I miss the days when I had hours at a stretch to indulge in my passion for writing.

For an excerpt of Lightning in a Bottle, check out this link to QMO Magazine!

Speaking of which, I should get back to it. I’ve got a scene that’s begging to be written and a chunk of time to do it in! Stay tuned, though, for more posts and giveaways to come!

The Evolution of Halloween

Welcome to my Howloween Blog Hop post! Anyone leaving a comment here will be in the running to win a signed, print copy of Going For Gold, the M/M Olympic themed anthology from MLR Press, including my sport horse novella, Lightning in a Bottle (if you live in the continental US) or the reader’s choice from my backlist in e-book form (if you live outside the US). Comments for the contest will be considered up until Nov 1, then a winner will be selected randomly from among the commenters.

The contest is now closed and the winner is vitajex! I’ll be contacting you via email–thanks for playing along, guys!

When I was a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I didn’t care for the Fourth of July with the fireworks and the cookouts. It took far too long to get to the park where we could see the fireworks display, and even longer getting out at the end of the evening. Ditto with New Year’s. A lot of noise and the making of resolutions no one ever keeps. Valentine’s Day was usually a bust for me too; with me complaining loudly to all who would listen that V-day was a commercial holiday orchestrated by society to force us into buying flowers and dinner out at a fancy restaurant. Thanksgiving seemed like a lot of work for an hour’s worth of good dining (though the days of leftovers helped make up for it!). Christmas Eve, in which everything was still a potential, (and nothing yet had disappointed) was always my favorite over Christmas Day.

But when I was growing up, Halloween had a special kind of magic all its own. For starters, there was the dressing up and going Trick or Treating. I don’t know about you guys, but Trick or Treating was a Big Deal when I was a kid. My grandmother had made me a tiger suit when I was very small–and being a sickly child who didn’t grow much, I was able to wear this outfit year after year. I loved my tiger suit. It fit over my entire body, compete with tail and a hoodie with ears.  My mom would draw whiskers on my face with her eyebrow pencil, and I would drape my tail over my arm as I headed out the door with my pumpkin basket to collect my candy.

Back then, Halloween was the culmination of my favorite time of the year.  I loved going back to school when I was a child. I loved that first day in September when the temperature dropped by 20 degrees and you had to take a sweater with you, ‘just in case’. I loved the crackle of dry leaves underfoot–the scratchy sound they made on the pavement as you walked through them. Even the air was different–smelling of wood smoke and damp earth, cool and crisp as a Red Delicious apple. October was all red and yellow leaves, gorgeous afternoons with bars of light that lay in heavy bands of gold across the path in the woods. November is different. By the time November arrives, the trees are bare, the afternoons are cold and rainy. Halloween is the last, best week of the most glorious time of year.

But on Halloween, everyone would pull out the stops.  People carved pumpkins and placed lighted candles within to indicate they were receptive to Trick or Treaters. We would wait, dressed in our costumes, until dusk, after which we would hit the streets. Back then, people knew their neighbors. My favorite house to visit belonged to Mrs. Hutchins–she made the most incredible gingerbread men–each individually decorated.  Not to be outdone, my mother made popcorn balls and created little airplanes out of Popsicle sticks and Lifesavers–the tube of Lifesavers making the body of the plane, and two Lifesavers were used as wheels.

Somewhere along the way, Halloween changed. Pixie stix were found to be laced with cyanide, and candy was showing up with razor blades inside. My father insisted that our candy be radiographed at the hospital where he worked before we ate it, and my parents refused to to let us eat anything that was homemade anymore. I outgrew my tiger suit, and trick or treating in the neighborhood was replaced by Halloween parties. My parents were not big party throwers, so Halloween became something to set aside, as another part of my childhood that I shelved on growing up.

I noticed the other night that in the upscale neighborhoods near my house, homes are decorated for Halloween now as seriously as some people take Christmas, with colored lights and inflatable displays that go up at the first of October and stay up until Thanksgiving (when the Christmas decorations come out). Some are gorgeously and tastefully decorated with little orange lights and garlands of brightly colored leaves winding around the railings. Some are a little more out there…

Great. One more thing that I can’t keep up with due to lack of time. As it is, I no longer decorate for Christmas. I just can’t do all that work when half the time, I’m not even there. Decorating your house for the holidays is so that you can pull up at night and see the lights glowing in the impending dusk. It sort of dampens the effect if you have to go inside and turn the lights on first, you know?

I never lost my love of dressing up in costume, however. My mother, freed from the pressure of keeping up with the likes of Mrs. Hutchins, refused to acknowledge the day. One year, I’d come home from college for the weekend, only to find my mother heading out to a movie, house darkened, no candy available.

Well, screw that, I thought. After she left, I went to the store and bought some candy. When I got back to the house, I scrounged around until I put together an outfit that could have passed for a woman in Colonial Williamsburg–a floor length skirt, a long sleeved, high-necked blouse.  I piled my hair on top of my head and picked up a camping lantern. I left the lights off in the house, and wandered through the rooms with the lantern, pausing in windows so I could be seen from the street.  I have to admit, more than one car screeched to a stop when passing the house!

I decided that if anyone rang the doorbell, I would liberally hand out candy without speaking.  I did get a few callers, though I suspect the lights being out discouraged most of them. I do remember one small child, leaning in with her basket to receive her candy, saying in a voice filled with awe, “You’re beautiful!”

I didn’t hear that a lot when I was young. It made an impression. 🙂

Somehow, I never let go of Halloween. Even with nowhere to go, I still wanted to dress for the day. There’s something about putting on a costume that is so liberating. I tend to dress as favorite characters from movies or stories, as opposed to the Sexy Witch, or the Sexy Vampire. Dressing as a favorite character imbues you with their strengths, and for a brief period of time, you are your hero.  I’ve written about Walking like Beckett and what I’ve learned from that, but over the years, I’ve been Athena from the original Battlestar Galactica series, and I’ve worn my Star Trek Next Gen (science blue) outfit for years. I’ve purchased the short dress uniform from the Star Trek Reboot, and Starbuck’s uniform from the new Battlestar Galactica, too.

But making my own costume makes me happier than any pre-made one. There’s something about the hunt for all the right components that’s akin to searching the used bookstores for an elusive out-of-print book. Sure, you could probably find it online–but the treasure hunt is part of the fun. This year, I’ve decided to go as Peggy Carter from Captain America. My word, I love the feisty heroine! Take a strong female character (strong, not bitchy!), dress her in a WW II uniform and put lipstick on her, and I am your devoted slave. Peggy Carter is everything I would like to be–tough but feminine, purpose-driven but believing in heroes, and one helluva shot!  I loved how–period not withstanding–Peggy was not simply the love interest in the movie, but out there in the thick of things fighting with everyone else.

So for months now, I’ve been putting together a costume. An authentic uniform (or as close as I can get). Olive military jacket and skirt (wool). A white shirt. An olive tie. Silver wings. Kick-ass shoes.

I mentioned to a friend that I needed to find just the right ‘wartime red’ lipstick to finish the outfit, and she surprised me with a package the other day. She discovered that the favorite lipstick of the day was Victory Red by Elizabeth Arden, and that they still make it! She sent me a tube, along with an era authentic compact (Stratton–what ALL the English women used), and the piece de la resistance, a pendant with the likeness of Captain Steve Rogers embedded in it!

Do you know how much fun it is when your friends get involved in your fandom loves?  It’s magical.  It’s what Halloween is all about.

Be sure to leave your email in your comments so that I can contact you if you are the winner!

Going for Gold is the M/M Olympic themed anthology from MLR Press! Ice skating, diving, equestrian eventing, competitive shooting and more! There’s something for everyone (especially if you like hot athletes in Speedos, or tight breeches and tall boots!)

Coming Soon from Sarah Madison…

Today is rainy and cold, as much of the US is experiencing a cold snap for the first time this fall. My thoughts turn to autumn and how this is my favorite time of the year. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I’ve been much busier than usual, which has really cut into my writing time. I have a little unexpected time off these next few days and I plan to spend it working on Hold the Reins, the expanded version of my novella Lightning in a Bottle, which is part of the Going for Gold Anthology from MLR Press.

I love these characters and the sport horse world, so writing this story should be a snap. right? Not really. I have to make sure I don’t duplicate or reveal too much of what happens in the already printed novella section, as well as try and fix some things that weren’t completely developed there (I re-wrote a huge bit of LIAB on the fly, with the blessing of MLR Press, so that writing this expanded version would even make sense). I am finding this much harder to do than I’d expected, and the demands of work tough as well. Since I’m an inveterate tinkerer when it comes to my WIPs, I simply don’t understand how anyone can post segments of an unfinished work online anywhere! I’m constantly revising. If I see a glimmer of gold on the stream bed, I’m going to sift through that scene until I can determine if it is a vein worth pursuing or not.

I’m over-extended in a serious way and looking gratefully toward the holiday season, when things normally slow down a bit for me. But autumn, that’s my Holy Season. The sunlight slants through the trees in the afternoon, the spectrum of color a rich yellow that lights up the falling leaves from within and highlights their shades of red and gold. In a few short weeks, the trees will be bare, and the now-crisp leaves underfoot will turn to wet mulch. The light will slide from yellow toward the clear, cold white of winter. Autumn is such a brief time of magic and wonder, when the heat and humidity have finally broken and you can see the mountains clearly for the first time since the spring. I have a few days planned off here and there, but nothing like the actual vacation I need to recharge my batteries and get my mind wrapped around writing again. So for now, it’s write when I can, and hope it doesn’t completely tank.

I’ve finished some other writing commitments while others still languish. When I have very little time to work on too many projects, too often I spin in circles when I do get some time, dashing from project to project, envisioning scenes for something I can’t work on right now, frittering away the morning in chats or on Twitter because I can’t seem to settle down to work. Well, I’m going to be a good girl after this post and shut the browser. I’m NOT joining in on a chat, I’m not heading over to Facebook. I’m going to pull out the WIP and see if I can figure out what the problem is with it and whether it is salvageable as written or if I need to scrap the 7 K written and start over.

In other news, I’ve got a blog post up at KMN Books, which is a short scene between Tate and Alex from Crying for the Moon, in which they discuss Halloween and why Alex doesn’t celebrate it. Crying for the Moon was recently awarded 1st runner up in the category of Best Paranormal of 2011 in the Golden Rose Awards. One of the judges stated, “Crying for the Moon is a wonderful paranormal story. Author Sarah
Madison has managed to refresh the vampire/werewolves stories that are
the current fad! Well done! I look forward to more from this author.”

I’m delighted and honored to be among such distinguished authors and their stories! Of course, now I feel guilty that I haven’t been working on those promised sequels…

Anyone who leaves a comment on the KMN post before Oct 10th is eligible to win a signed, print copy of Going for Gold (if you live in the continental US) or reader’s choice from my backlist as an e-book. Hurry before the contest ends!

Speaking of the need to hurry, you should also run over to Dreamspinner Press and check out all their specials this month of October. New discounts are available every few days in honor of specific events this month–so many DSP authors are traveling to conventions and almost every paranormal story will have a discount this month as well. But the days vary and the specials don’t last for long, so check them out before it’s too late!

Also coming up soon, guest blog posts from Cooper West, Nessa L. Warrin, and my dear writing pal, Claire Russett. I’m also doing a blog hop at the end of the month: The Howloween Blog Hop! (I don’t think that link is live yet, though)

Lest you think I’m not planning any fun at all for myself, I’ve almost put together the finishing touches on my Peggy Carter costume for Halloween (yes, I spent FAR too much money on this, but come on, Peggy Carter!! It had to be as close to perfect as possible!) and I’m going to a get-together of fandom friends too.

Or maybe I just like shoes… 🙂

So don’t be surprised if you don’t see much of me around–this means I’m working my tail off writing!

The Devil is in the Details

 

I love researching background material for a story. I know some people view it as a necessary evil; still others handwave around it and hope no one will call them out on their lack of factual details. I’m one of those people who really gets into a subject, wanting to know more about it, taking the research well beyond what is necessary to the story.
But there’s a fine line to walk between learning enough about the Battle of Britain in order to lend authenticity to a particular story and getting lost for hours on Wikipedia. And sometimes the obsession with getting the facts exactly right can get in the way of the story telling itself.

I’ve seen writers never progress off the second page of their story because they spent the last four hours trying to fact-check a minor bit of background detail—something not essential to the story at all, but because it was so important to the writer to get the facts straight, they never finished the story. I have to say, if you can’t find the information quickly and easily, it’s time to ask yourself just how important is it that you verify this fact in the first place? If you can’t find the answer, will the answer matter to anyone else?

I’ve also seen writers suck the life out of their own stories with a pedantic need for verisimilitude. There is such a thing as artistic license, and as long as we don’t use that as an excuse for shoddy research and bending the facts to fit our story needs, sometimes it’s better to go with convention than the actual truth. Take for example, the “murder board” as it is depicted in the average cop drama. I have it on good authority (a former homicide detective, teaching a writing course on murder stories) that the murder board—that white dry erase board where the detectives post pictures of the victims and suspects, draw time lines, and write up important facts—doesn’t exist.

Yep, you heard me. Doesn’t exist. At least, not in the form that we know it.

There are murder books, a case file where all the pertinent information concerning the crime is kept for working access, including crime scene photos, autopsy reports, and witness statements. No doubt with the ability to scan important documents and the push for more and more organizations to go paperless, the murder book will eventually be replaced by other means of record keeping. But that ubiquitous white board that makes its appearance in almost every episode of your favorite weekly police procedural television show is a fabrication.

Why use it then? Because it allows the show’s writers to share important information with the audience in a manner that isn’t information dumping. It puts names to faces and posts them in front of us. It provides a framework around which characters can ask each other questions—again, for the audience’s benefit, sometimes even having a eureka moment when they piece together the final bits of the puzzle. Not to mention creating a focus for dramatic shots of the lead actor staring morosely at the board in a half-lit room, cradling a cup of coffee.

So should we as writers, knowing that this is a convention for story-telling through television and movies, eliminate the murder board? There is one very compelling argument for continuing to use them in our stories. They are used so widely on television and in the movies that the audience expects them. To not use them feels like you haven’t done your homework. That you didn’t research your topic thoroughly enough. Ironic, isn’t it?

Because I love research, if I’m not careful, I’ll spend weeks reading and watching videos in order to get the right background for the story I want to write. If I’m not on a deadline, well, no big deal, I can wallow in my background details to my heart’s content. But I have to watch out and make sure I don’t use ‘research’ as an excuse to avoid the harder task of writing. So I’ve developed some personal guidelines which you may find useful.

1. Resist stopping every five minutes to look something up on Google. If you’re working on a first draft and you know you need to fact-check something, mark it with an asterisk and come back to it. If it is a minor background detail like what sort of weapon your hero would carry or what year penicillin came into widespread use, you don’t need to let it interrupt the flow of your writing. I know, I know! You think it will only take you a second to look it up, but seconds can turn into an incredible time sink when you are in first draft mode and your brain eagerly latches on to any reason not to finish that paragraph you’ve been working on. Focus on the story first and research second. You can do it! Resistance is not futile.

2. Determine how important the background research is to the story and allot the correct amount of time to it. If you are writing a WW2 story that takes place 24 hours before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, you’d best have all your facts straight. Getting that wrong, either with anachronisms, or factual errors, or simply not having good feel for the mindset of the average person of the time—all these things will be woefully obvious if you don’t research the material thoroughly. A good rule of thumb: the more important the background is to the story, the more time you should spend on it. Your character dreams that he’s a rodeo clown and wakes up because a bull slams into his barrel? Yeah, you can probably get everything you need to know through a quick search on Google. You’re writing a story in which the main character suffers a spinal cord injury that completely changes his life? You’d better know what you’re talking about. You’ve chosen a condition that will affect every single aspect of your character’s life now. If you aren’t intimately familiar with your subject, it will show.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The more realistic your setting, the more factual you should be, but if you’ve built a world where magic and the mundane co-exist, you probably don’t have to spend hours determining if your character can or cannot have access to aspirin unless the whole story hinges on this fact. And even then, there’s a place for some handwaving in such a world because you’ve already bent the laws of science and nature by having magic be possible.

4. You’re there to write first and foremost. When you get big and famous, maybe you can pay someone to fact check for you, but for now, you’re doing everything yourself. If you spend too much time on the non-essentials, you’re wasting valuable writing time. Mark it, come back to it in the editing phase. And remember, most people aren’t going to care what kind of shoes your character is wearing unless your story is set in a time before shoes were invented.

Bottom line: do your homework, but be smart about it. It is secondary to the story, not the story itself.

My latest story, Lightning in a Bottle, is part of the Olympic-themed M/M anthology from MLR Press, Going for Gold. I wrote about my own sport, eventing, which meant short of a few facts to check, I didn’t have to do a ton of research. Now I’m looking at writing a sequel, which means I have to learn a whole lot more about competing at the Olympic level—something I will never do myself. Which means, gosh darn, I have to do some additional research. I’ve already bought the eventing DVDs from the Games, and a book on training for the sport from my favorite eventing coach, and…

What’s the subject that you enjoyed researching the most and how did you end up using that information? Inquiring minds want to know!

Going for Gold now available on Amazon!

I can’t help it–I always get a thrill out of seeing my name on a book that is offered for sale on Amazon! This time I get the joint pleasure of seeing my name along with some really wonderful authors in this Olympic themed anthology full of smokin’ hot male/male romance.

 

Going for Gold is now available on Amazon!

I’ve been without internet, so I missed out on the fact that Going for Gold was jessewaves free read the other day, so I want to make sure I get the word out on this now! Of course, you can get it direct from MLR Press too!

What are you waiting for? Last night I took up a friend’s offer of staying at her cabin with my dog while I was in town. No internet, but a secluded cabin in the woods where I could just open the door and let my dog run. After a long walk with the rumble of thunder in the background, I settled in for an evening of writing (I’m working on a sequel to my entry in the anthology, Lightning in a Bottle) and began reading reading Going for Gold myself. I was immediately drawn in to the storytelling and characterization of my fellow authors and I had to force myself to slow down so I wouldn’t whip through the series! These stories are too good–they need to be savored. 🙂

Dealing with Disconnect

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with an increasing sense of disconnect in my life. Funny, how were are more connected than ever, what with Facebook, and Twitter, and various other social platforms–and yet there are times when I wonder what the heck I’m doing spending so much time connected to a device rather than the people and things that I love.

I said as much to the BF last night, after noting how he waited patiently me to stop participating in a chat so we could watch a movie together.

“Why do you say that?” His tone was wry. “Is it because you reach for your cell first thing in the morning to check your Tweets before even getting out of bed?”

In my defense, Twitter is the main way I keep up with some of my friends, and one of them has been very ill recently. I began looking for an update each morning (because of the time difference) ever since I’d missed an important message from her because it had been snowed under by the hundreds of promotional tweets I’d received.

Since then, I’ve thinned the Twitter nest and learned how to make lists, so I can check for the really important stuff every day and filter out the crap. Even so, my phone is constantly vibrating in my pocket. Hell, even when it doesn’t, I think it does, suffering from what Craig Ferguson calls Phantom Phone Vibration Syndrome.

No joke, I get upward of 100 emails a day, and that’s with me being on digest for 99% of my lists. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking people to stop emailing me–I LOVE it when you guys email me and give me feedback on a story, or ask me questions. I love, too, making internet friends and having nice thinky discussions either here on the blog, or via email. Please keep doing that!

What troubles me though is that my need to stay connected to the internet is almost an addiction. I circle through the same social networking sites looking for something to respond to, to ‘like’, to ‘retweet’. I check Twitter at stoplights. I find myself pushing my dog away and telling him I’ll take him out later–not because I am in the throes of a current chapter–but because I’m in the middle of a chat, or a blog hop, or answering 40 responses on Live Journal or a Goodreads thread.

So the irony here is that I’m more connected than ever–and yet increasingly isolated from everything that really matters to me. There’s got to be a better way of balancing things.

Initially when I began writing professionally, I quickly became overwhelmed by the degree of social media connections I was supposed to make and maintain. I rebelled, fighting the rallying cry to blow the self-promotion horn. I lurked on lists, I avoided live chats like the plague (I’m still not super comfortable with them), I wrote silly, self-indulgent blog posts titled “Are Blogs Dead?” and “Shut Up and Write.” I still believe there is merit in shutting up and writing, you know. I look at the time I spend in social media and the current level of productive writing and it makes me cringe.

So I think the key here is doing it effectively. Not the all-or-nothing I’ve been swinging back and forth from lately. I’ve been following Kristen Lamb’s blog for a while now, and she has some good things to say along these lines. What finally tipped me into buying her books, however, was taking a webinar on social media success that touted all things I hate most about that mentality–how to use automation, how to gain huge numbers of followers all with the idea of how they can best help you, presenting a fake persona to the public eye so as to never, ever offend anyone.

I spent the first 40 years of my life never offending anyone. I was practically sewn into a Cloak Of Invisibility. So it goes a bit against the grain now to be told to air only benign, generic opinions for fear of alienating people. I know, I know, I believe that a negative internet presence is more damaging than none, but I also believe in stating what I think and not being mealy-mouthed with my opinions. Anyway, I was so annoyed with the teachings of the webinar that I broke down and bought Kristen Lamb’s books:” We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.”

I say ‘broke down’ because my purchasing these books was akin to someone with an eating disorder being told they needed to keep a food diary. However, I found these books to be extremely useful (as well as easy to read and entertaining). Oh wow, nothing like discovering you’ve been doing everything wrong–and worse, that you were PROUD of it.

Okay, I still maintain that obsessively reading reviews and watching sales rank on Amazon just messes with your mind. But a lot of the other stuff I have defended–such as not blogging, or chatting, or promoting–well, let’s just say I was wrong and I was right.

I was right in that the methods I was being taught, the ones that rankled with me, were indeed counter-productive and off-putting to most people. And simply not effective. The key to social media is the social part. If you are acting like a spam-bot, people will treat you accordingly. Worse, you will actually make a negative association with your name.

Where I was wrong, however, was in my stance that social networking and self-promotion was unnecessary. Okay, I knew this on some level, but I still kept resisting the idea because putting myself out there is not really my thing.

So where does this leave me? Seeking balance. Finding a way to balance doing the necessary bits of being a writer with the important bits that give my life meaning. Taking the dog for a run in the woods. Riding my horse. Hanging out with my boyfriend. And yes, writing.

In that vein, I will be blogging more here. I will be doing more blog hops (because I love them) and fewer chat/promo/excerpt lists (because they make me squirrely). I invite you to email me (there’s a link on the side but I’ll give it to you here too: akasarahmadison at gmail dot com). I’ll post updates via Twitter and Facebook, but will spend less time there too.

Because I really want to get back to writing. After all, that’s the whole reason why I’m here.

Two guest blogs you might want to check out: I had a spot on QMO (Queer Magazine Online), where I talk about being ‘just’ a supporter of the GLBTQ community and a spot on E.m. Lynley’s blog (the editor of Going for Gold, the new anthology from MLR Press, in which I have a story) where I share a bit about not giving up on the dreams that really matter.

Going for Gold is now available on MLR Press.

Do contact me and let me know what you think! I really enjoy interacting with people online and my path to balance doesn’t preclude emails!

 

Going for Gold–available August 31, 2012!

Is it Friday, yet?

I ask because I am so excited about the release of Going for Gold, the Olympic-themed M/M anthology from MLR Press. I can’t remember when I was this excited about a new release! Maybe it’s because the subject matter in my story is one dear to my heart–the horse sport known as Eventing. Maybe it’s because there are six other great stories in this anthology and I can’t wait to read them! Maybe it’s because I barely got a chance to watch the London Games this year and already I am in serious Olympics withdrawal.

I did get to see some of the Beach Volleyball, the swimming, and the platform diving. Matthew Mitcham is my new hero, let me tell you. 🙂 Oh, the drama of the women’s gymnastics! Or how about GB ending a sixty year drought by winning gold in the show jumping?

I still have the equestrian events on TiVo because I have plans for the characters in my anthology story, Lightning in a Bottle. *rubs hands together evilly* I had eyes on the ground, too, as my good friend and fellow author Claire Russett was on hand to watch the dressage portion of the eventing competition (and report back to me).

So what does the lineup for Going for Gold look like? Here’s a list of authors and titles:

Michael P. Thomas – “Hot Shots”
Kelly Rand – “The Quad”
K-lee Klein – “An Olympic Goal”
Sarah Madison – “Lightning in a Bottle”
Kaje Harper – “Tumbling Dreams”
Nico Jaye – “Into the Deep”
Whitley Gray – “Shoot For the Gold”
Annabeth Albert – “Swimming the Distance”

So, do you need an Olympic fix? Jonesing for some swimming or maybe some ice hockey (don’t forget, the Olympics aren’t just about the summer Games!)

Here’s some blog posts where the authors share a little about their stories and the inspiration behind them:
Michael P. Thomas talks about how he deals with his own Olympic withdrawal symptoms here. His video clip of Matthew Mitcham is a must-see for everyone!
Annabeth Albert finds inspiration in Speedo’s over at Cup of Porn today.  And I have to say, I hail the return of the Speedo as well.  Provided the right person is wearing them…
Nico Jaye gives us a sweet teaser about her diving story on her blog, and an excerpt here. Oh, I want more, now, darn it! *presses refresh button again*

I’m off to a horse trial this weekend (sadly, not as a competitor this time) so be prepared to be inundated with horse pictures on my return.  Gotta love a profession where everything can be written off to research, eh?

There will be more author links as blog posts go live, so be sure to check them out!

THE BUY LINK IS UP!  Going for Gold

So what’s your favorite Olympic sport?  Is it the diving (one of mine!)?  Do you love seeing how happy the swim teams are? What’s the draw for you?  The competition? Watching top athletes at peak performance? All that lean muscle and exquisite display of the human form?  What do you wish they’d show more of–or less? Inquiring minds want to know.  Share!